have a nice new year
Talented Houston chefs star in 'nice day' Lunar New Year pop-up market in buzzy Midtown hub
Houston food lovers have a special opportunity to celebrate the lunar new year this Sunday, January 29. Have a Nice Day, a pop-up market oriented towards AAPI and BIPOC vendors, will take place at The Ion in Midtown from 4-8 pm (4201 Main St.).
Organized by four friends — local publicists Isabel Protomartir and Julie Nong along with videographer Michael Ma and entrepreneur Brian Rama — the Have A Nice Day markets have built a steady following since they debuted in 2021. Market attendees come to shop, eat, and socialize in a friendly, welcoming environment.
Asked for advice about what first time visitors should know, Protomatir doesn’t hesitate.
“Come hungry. Food is important to our entire team,” she writes in an email. “It’s kind of the inspiration on how our name came to be (Have a Nice Day is inspired by those iconic Chinatown take our bags!). Come ready to make a friend, come ready to shop and support local, and maybe be ready to dance a little, too.”
Those who take her advice to come hungry will be well rewarded. The roster of more than 20 participating vendors includes a diverse array of food options including Dumpling Haus, former Masterchef finalist Suu Khin, Pudgy’s Fine Cookies, Filipino comfort food concept Alengnina’s, and more.
In addition to those returning vendors, former Gatlin’s BBQ chef Michelle Wallace will debut her new B’tween Sandwich Co.Mi
Michelle Wallace knows biscuits sandwiches.Courtesy of Michelle Wallace
“The significance of having [Wallace] debut Between the Slices at Have a Nice Day is not lost on us,” Protomartir writes. “James Beard recognized, CultureMap Rising star nominated — honored doesn’t seem to cut it. She’s a force to be reckoned with and for her to do her thing with us means so much. We’re so proud to introduce her to our growing community.”
Wallace follows in the footsteps of a number of other food pop-ups that have gone to open restaurants. Most recently, Houston food influencer Abbas Dhanani brought Burger Bodega to several of the events prior to opening his brick and mortar restaurant on Washington Avenue last year.
Beyond the food, the market will feature a lion dance by the Nu Vuong Hoa Binh Lion Dance Team at 6 pm. Attendees should bring a few dollar bills to “feed” the lions for good luck in the new year. Have a Nice Day’s resident DJ, DJ Lonny Sounds, keeps the party going.
The first 100 attendees will receive red envelopes that contain freebies, cash, discounts, and more. Beverages will provided by sponsors Johnnie Walker, Ketel One, Don Julio, Seedlip (Non-alcoholic), and Topo Chico.
Finally, Jasmeen Aimer of J. Aimer Boutique has created a special Have a Nice Day pendant necklace that will debut at this weekend’s market. Organizers will donate 100-percent of the profits from all pendants sold to the families of the 11 people who died at last weekend’s mass shooting in Monterey Bay, California.